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FAQ #8


Question: You seem to have a bad attitude toward book dealers. How come? What's the most you ever paid for a Freddy book?
Answer: Let me describe the behavior of some book dealers I witnessed once upon a time at an annual AAUW used book sale, and then perhaps you will understand my so-called "bad attitude." Now the purpose of this book sale is to raise money for the AAUW. Fine. But it's also a chance for people without a lot of money to buy books at reasonable prices--right? Well, I showed up about an hour before the doors were to open just to chat with other early birds about books and reading and to be among the first to enter so I could find one of the Mushroom Planet books by Eleanor Cameron before the book dealers got in there. As I approached the longish line waiting to get in, I recognized several of the hyenas already at the head of the line. I had seen some of them in action before at other books sales, so I knew what was coming. They looked jumpy and twitchy, and although they were talking among themselves, you could tell that they didn't much like the fact that there were so many of their own kind there. The ones at the very head of the line kept looking in the door and scoping the situation out. It's a wonder they didn't pull out binoculars to scan the tables, for God's sake, or start snapping or tearing at each other. And what a sorry display they put on when the doors finally opened! They ran into the room and began scooping up armloads of books from the tables and dumping them into huge canvas sacks. Some of them worked in pairs--one would run from table to table and the other would guard the mounting stack of books the runner would drop off when the load got too heavy. Enough to turn your stomach, isn't it. The rest of us did our best to peruse the tables we were actually interested in as readers, but it was not unusual to have one of these greedy scavengers rudely jostle you as he or she reached across you and grabbed for a book. Now their loathsome behavior should be enough to sour anyone on book dealers. But here's what really burned me up. When I had paid my entrance fee and gotten my hand stamped, I went directly to the tables with children's literature on them to look for Mrs. Cameron's Time and Mr. Bass. There were already four or five dealers working those tables like a flock of carrion-picking vultures, so I didn't have much hope, but I started looking anyway. Darned if I didn't see the book on the other side of the second table I went to, but before I could reach across to get it, one of the dealers snatched it away. Well, all the children's books were going for fifty cents, so I approached the dealer and offered him a dollar for it. He actually chuckled at me and said, "I don't think so. If you want it, you can buy it in my store." He then gave me the name and location of his store and raced off to grab more books. Well, poop-poop-a-doop, I thought to myself, and went about my business. I did find copies of Dr. Dolittle in the Moon, Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind, Philip Dick's Martian Time-Slip, Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality, and How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the monks of New Skete, so I didn't feel as though the whole trip to the sale was a complete wash. But that business about Time and Mr. Bass--well, it kind of stuck in my craw. So here's what I did. About a week later I had Mrs. U. call that bookdealer up and ask if he had any Eleanor Cameron titles in stock and if so, how much they would be. He told her he had just come across a nice copy of Time and Mr. Bass and he could let her have it for $55.00. Fifty-five dollars! What was the markup on that!? He had paid a lousy fifty cents for it, and now he was holding it for fifty-five dollars ransom? I suppose there must be some decent used book dealers out there. They couldn't possibly all be scaly bottom feeders, could they? But my general experience with the lot of them has left me with...yes, indeed, a bad attitude. No one minds someone making a reasonable profit for his or her efforts, but some book dealers are in a class all their own. Of course, this is just my opinion based on my experiences with some of them.  

What was the most I ever paid for a Freddy book? Well, I completed the set back in the '70s largely through the assistance of Mr. Frances Klenett, a Brooklyn, New York, bookseller. He was a most courteous and helpful gentleman and always dealt fairly and reasonably with me. I went through my scrapbooks, and in the 1976 volume I found the following note from Mr. Klenett. I think the title mentioned in it was the last I needed. Note the price, the most I ever paid for a Knopf Freddy book.

Mr. Klenett's note to me

Mr. Klenett underestimated the condition. It is a good+ first edition, and it has a dust jacket, not that that matters very much to me. I thought the book may have been a little on the expensive side back then, but I saw essentially the same book advertised for $300 on the Internet today. N. B. This topic always seems to get me going, and I think since you all know my feelings on it by now, I will henceforth disregard all further questions about book dealers, the prices of Freddy books, etc.

Question: I think some of Freddy Bean's poetry is quite good. Why do you call it "vile"?
Answer: You think you've read all his poetry, don't you. You probably even have the Collected Poems into which "Uncle Walter" inserted some of Freddy's own poetry alongside his own? Well, here's one you haven't seen--the final draft of a previously unpublished "Freddy" poem. I believe this is one of his earlier "works." Later he did turn something out called "Thoughts on Teeth" (which Mr. Brooks incorporated in his Freddy and Simon the Dictator), but I found this unpublished poem "Teeth" stuck in one of the Beans' picture albums along with a rejection letter from a literary magazine. Read it and you'll see why I think his "poetry" is vile.

"The Teeth"
by Frederick Bean

Fangs, tusks, bicuspids, molars--
Call them what you will...
Sans teeth, choppers, eater-uppers
You couldn't eat your fill.

Toss in oatmeal, toss in porridge,
shovel in hominy grits.
Throw in farina and other forage!
Teeth grind 'em quickly to bits.

And now to tougher foods we venture,
like steak and hard little peas.
Your pearly whites, your gnashing denture-
-s handle them with ease.

So brush your teeth with daily vigor.
Don't neglect them, if you please.
The cavities in them'll only get bigger,
and hurt more than the sting of bees.

So, what do you think now? I know what I think. I think I'll toss this "poem" right into the trash.

Question: Is all the stuff on your site copyrighted? Do I have to ask your permission to quote or copy your stuff?
Answer: Yes, it is and yes, you do. EHA Industries and the Disney organization are much alike in this respect; however, we are much more liberal in granting permission to quote or copy our "stuff." The terms are simple: always ask first, always give us credit, and, if you are copying or quoting our material on a Web site, we'd very much appreciate a link to Mr. Eha's Place. Is this not reasonable? Yes, it is. The Board of Managers thanks you for your cooperation in this matter.

Question: I sent in a question a long time ago, but you never answered it. How come?
Answer: See my introduction to the "Short Answers..." section below. I fear your question may have been "too weird," even though you yourself may be perfectly normal.

Question: You seem to be very interested in food. What is your typical daily fare?
Answer: Refer to the table below. I won't start working on my 1999 Eating Plan until mid-December, so if you're interested in what it will be, e-mail me after December 25.

1998 Eating Plan
Breakfast
6:05-6:20 A.M.
Bowl of Grape Nuts with a cup of 1% milk; one very ripe medium-sized banana fried in canola oil; two slices of buttered rye bread toast; one eight-ounce glass of orange juice (not from concentrate); two cups of freshly-brewed coffee--black. Morning medications.
Lunch
12:00-12:15 P.M.
On alternate days, either an American cheese sandwich on multigrain bread or a chunky peanut butter and peach jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread; five low-fat store brand potato chips; one Golden Delicious apple; ten-ounce glass of 2% milk; two cups of freshly-brewed coffee black with one tsp. sugar each. Midday medications.
Afternoon Snack
3:30-3:40 P.M.
One cup of Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Cheese Goldfish or five buttered saltine crackers with two sardines. One bottle of beer if it's a really hot day (above 85); otherwise, twelve ounces of club soda.  
Dinner
6:00-7:00 P.M.

Sunday: Roast pork, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, tossed salad, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and one glass of Merlot.

This year, the menus for the rest of the week follow ethnic themes; the main dish is always accompanied by suitable side dishes and an appropriate wine. Monday: German night. Tuesday: Italian. Wednesday: Polish. Thursday: Asian. Friday: U.S. Regional. Saturday: Anything Goes Night! (Every other Saturday night = dining out with Mrs. Underdunk.)

Evening Snack
9:50-9:55 P.M.
One handful of unsalted, roasted organic peanuts and an eight-ounce glass of filtered water. Evening medications.

Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions

Some of you have written to ask why I bother to respond to what must be very strange questions from very strange people. My response to you is that I believe I should answer all but the very weirdest questions which come from a tiny minority of my readers so as not to alienate the sensible, rational majority of my readership--who only occasionally ask "weird" questions. And now on to the short answers....

  • Let's see. Today is August 11, 1998, so that would make me 28408 days old. If I add all the digits up that comes to 22. And then 2 + 2 = 4 and 2 X 2 = 4. So in this particular case, you're right.
  • Yes, one of my feet is bigger than the other, but I think that's a fairly common thing. I don't think it has anything to do with the X-ray machine in the shoe store.
  • No, I'm not interested in buying your lakeside property in Florida.
  • If you think he's Jinx, why don't you simply go up and ask him? What have you got to lose?
  • That might be my Studebaker! If you see it again, please e-mail me immediately!
  • No, John McCurdy doesn't rent out his cottage to strangers.
  • I have not read anything by Lily Wesselhoeft, but Flipwing, the Spy does sound a little interesting.
  • No, I never owned a "leisure suit." Bad taste! Very bad taste indeed!
  • Ant farms do not come with ants. You have to send in a certificate. However, your Sea Monkey® kit comes with a batch of them, and they are very easy to hatch and care for unless you're a member of the Centerboro High School science department.
  • I think the companies who sell bottled water are laughing all the way to the bank, yes.
  • I doubt whether Richard Albacore is going to do anything to me for my portrayal of him; I don't think he could have lived very long anyway.
  • The way I figure it, the Martians have been visiting Earth for hundreds of thousands of years, but I don't think they assisted with the pyramids or the Great Wall of China.
  • Mrs. U. and I will be up in Huntsville, Ontario, again during the next-to-last weekend of July 1999.
  • Sheriff Higgins? Well, he was leaning on the window bars in one of the cells when the whole thing gave way and he fell about twenty feet to the ground. He retired on disability, but never fully recovered, and I believe he passed away in 1961 or 1962.

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